The Raiders and Titans struggled through Round 8 of the 2021 NRL season but it was one to remember for Sam Walker’s Roosters and the Tigers.

Green Machine Running Out Of Gas

It is going from bad to worse for the Canberra Raiders. Their 16-8 lead over the South Sydney Rabbitohs is long forgotten as the eventual 34-20 loss dropped the Raiders outside the Top 8.

Ricky Stuart flirted around blaming an 8-1 penalty count for the result in the post-match press conference. Whether he believes it or is simply diverting attention away from his players, perhaps Stuart would be better to look at his bench rotation. Joseph Tapine (32 minutes), Siliva Havili (28 minutes) and Sia Soliola (9 minutes) are three players that could have helped the Raiders had they spent more time on the field.

Once among the favourites for the premiership, we can’t even be sure of the Raiders making the Top 8 at this point. 

Terrible Titans

The Gold Coast Titans flew out to a 22-0 lead over the Brisbane Broncos before completing one of the biggest capitulations in NRL history. 

The 22-point comeback is the greatest in Broncos club history and makes for one of the more memorable wins over their ‘little brother’ rivals. Particularly with the Titans being considered a Top 8 certainty and the Broncos hovering around wooden spoon contention.

As somebody that hasn’t quite been able to push the Broncos aside and write them off for this season, to see them score 36 points is encouraging. Unlike the Titans, the Broncos scored some well-worked tries. The sort they can repeat next week if the pack gets them up the field. 

Still on the second line of betting to finish with the least wins in the NRL this season at $3.75, the oddsmakers don’t have quite the same faith in Kevvy and the boys.

Sam Walker: Simply Incredible

If there was an NRL Rookie of the Year market, Sam Walker would be at $1.01 to win it at this point.

The 18-year-old has burst onto the scene and helped an injury-ravaged Sydney Roosters outfit stay inside the Top 4 through eight rounds. He finished up with four try assists (9 total this season) and a try of his own as the Roosters thumped a hapless Newcastle Knights side 38-4 on Saturday night. Walker has always been on the radar as a special talent, but nobody thought he would have such an impact on first-grade this early. 

It wasn’t all good news for the Roosters in Round 8, though. Lindsay Collins went down in a heap in the 74th minute which is bad enough. However, Brett Morris’ potentially career-ending ACL injury in the 77th minute resulted in a sombre post-match dressing room despite the convincing result.

Morris is one of the greatest wingers in NRL history. It’s sad to think we may have seen him play his last game after such a strong start to the 2021 season.

It’s those injuries on top of Luke Keary already that have the Roosters out at $2.25 to remain in the Top 4 and $9 to win the premiership.

Tigers Turn A Page?

The Wests Tigers picked up a much-needed 16-8 win over the St. George-Illawarra Dragons to wrap up Round 8. It gives hope to the thought of a run at the Top 8 following a 1-6 start to the 2021 NRL season. However, it’s worth proceeding with caution when tipping big things for Wests. The Dragons aren’t a good side despite what the ladder suggested before the game. They overachieved to start the year and aren’t close to a top six side. If anything, this is a game the Tigers should have won all along.

It’s the best the Tigers have played all season, but they have a long way to go if they’re to ever flirt with those spots at the bottom of the Top 8. The Titans at -5.5 against the Tigers in Round 9 is worth serious consideration.

NRL Against The Spread Ladder

The Canberra Raiders continue to fall massively short of expectations as they failed to cover the spread yet again. The Eels and Storm, meanwhile, both covered in Round 8 to retain their spot at the top of the NRL ATS Ladder.

After Round 8

Top 8
Bottom 8
Eels (7-1)Cowboys (4-4)
Storm (7-1)Warriors (3-5)
Rabbitohs (6-2)Broncos (3-5)
Roosters (5-3)Titans (3-5)
Sharks (5-3)Tigers (3-5)
Panthers (4-4)Knights (3-5)
Dragons (4-4)Raiders (2-6)
Sea Eagles (4-4)Bulldogs (1-7)